How Facebook Opened a Door That Was Already Open

Originally posted 2018-11-19 11:18:32

By Aurelia Mitchell Durant

After remaining noticeably silent in a social media world of extreme noise, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg commented on the data breach issues plaguing the social media platform and its handling of user data relative to Cambridge Analytica.

On March 21, 2018, in a televised interview on CNN, Zuckerberg apologized for the breach of trust and acknowledged the responsibility to safeguard the user data of the upwards of 2 billion people that use the platform.  The power and might of Facebook’s platform is its size which translates into revenue from advertisers.  This massive revenue generation is virtually unbeknownst to many users of the platform.

The disruptive nature of Facebook’s platform is that for many users it has become a connector; a way to connect with others and feel relevant.  In some respects, the platform appeals to our human insecurities and the need to be seen. We share, post, comment and read posts with very little regard for whether they are fake news or fake posts. Unconscious bias prompts us to believe what we want to believe and call the rest fake. But what is real is that Facebook has not mastered the art of being social and in some ways, has denigrated it.

The reckoning at Facebook highlights a major opportunity.  There are calls for users to abandon the platform and the hashtag #DeleteFacebook is catching on.  However, the nature of the beast is that users will need to get their psyche boost elsewhere.

With all its power, Facebook is not monolithic, there is room at the top.  This door was never closed although it seemed that Facebook was hogging the doorway.  The fervent technology revolutionaries that can deliver on the promise not to use user data to harm, do have a place in this discourse.

Data mining and selling user information does not feel good and it is unclear how regulation would make it feel any better.  Zuckerberg stated that one of the goals of Facebook is to amplify the good in human nature, but in my opinion, he misses the point.  Ultimately it is not the province of any social media platform to be the arbitrator of what is good in human nature.